Feedback raps Tesco on net-zero plans, mounts legal challenge against Food Strategy

Environmental NGO Feedback is taking the UK Government to court over the weakness of its National Food Strategy on the same day that it will disrupt Tesco’s AGM, calling for more robust net-zero plans from the supermarket.

Feedback raps Tesco on net-zero plans, mounts legal challenge against Food Strategy

Image: Tesco

The National Food Strategy was published last summer, around a year after Ministers received recommendations for inclusion from a review led by Henry Dimbleby. The vast majority of these recommendations were not included and, as such, the Strategy has been widely criticized.

Environmental recommendations that were not taken up included a target to reduce meat and dairy consumption by 30% and measures to strengthen environmental standards in fisheries.

The Government also did not pledge to increase free school meals or promote healthy foods to young people to the extent Dimbleby recommended.

Feedback has previously tried to challenge the Strategy, stating that it is misaligned with the UK’s 2050 net-zero targets and interim carbon budgets. Courts have previously ruled that Defra, which oversees the strategy, is not bound by the parts of the Climate Change Act which Feedback was lodging the challenge under.

It will today (16 June) seek to overturn that decision at the Court of Appeal. Feedback’s argument is that Defra is essential to the delivery of future climate targets, as emissions from agriculture and land use will need to be cut by 64% by 2050, per the Climate Change Committee’s recommendations.

Feedback is being represented by Rowan Smith, of law firm Leigh Day, who said: “Section 13 of the Climate Change Act says that measures to meet carbon budgets must be outlined, and the court has already made clear that is a continuing legal duty. It would completely undermine the effectiveness of the Climate Change Act, and set a bad precedent for other policies, if the Government could arbitrarily choose when and by whom that duty can be discharged.”

Last summer, the Climate Change Committee confirmed that agriculture in the UK has not been descarbonising rapidly enough to align with legally binding climate targets.

Tesco AGM

It’s set to be a busy day for Feedback; the NGO is also heading to Tesco’s AGM to demand more detailed information on how its plans to reach its long-term net-zero goal.

Tesco is targeting net-zero by 2050 globally, across all scopes. An earlier date of 2035 has been set for UK-based business operations.

Tesco was one of the world’s first companies to set approved emissions targets in line with 1.5C through the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi). It is aiming for a 60% reduction in Scope 1 (direct) and Scope 2 (power-related) emissions between 2015 and 2025. Also against a 2015 baseline, it is targeting a 17% reduction in Scope 3 (indirect) emissions by 2030.

Feedback is calling on Tesco to publish a comprehensive strategy on how it will deliver these emissions reductions. It has accused the supermarket of relying too heavily on energy-related initiatives and electric transport, without looking closely at product-related emissions in the supply chain. It wants the retailer to disclose Scope 3 emissions by product type.

“Unfortunately, initiatives like electric vans amount to little more than greenwash and gimmicks if they aren’t paired with a real plan to tackle [emissions] from Tesco’s continued and reckless sales of meat and dairy,” said Feedback’s head of policy Jessica Sinclair Taylor.

This will be the first Tesco AGM that Feedback is attending.

edie has approached Tesco for a comment.

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